Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants plans a big splash when it debuts its first international property in November 2016, marking the boutique hotelier's entry into the competitive Caribbean market.
The Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa will hang its shingle on Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman and will be the first development along that popular stretch of sand in 10 years.
San Francisco-based Kimpton, acquired by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) a year ago, currently manages 65 hotels and operates more than 70 hotel-based destination restaurants and bars in 31 U.S. cities and resort areas.
"We're very excited about Seafire," said Steven Andre, general manager. "This is a newbuild from the ground up and will incorporate our brand's hallmark service, design, culinary offerings and signature amenities set against the backdrop of Seven Mile Beach."
The topping-off ceremony for the main building and the name launch of the resort took place last month.
The Seafire name, in fact, refers to Seven Mile Beach and the spectacular sunsets that can be viewed from most vantage points at the resort, according to Andre.
"We've built in buffers to cover weather and construction delays, and we are on the countdown to the opening next November in time for the 2016-2017 winter season," Andre said.
The resort, located on the north end of the island, about a mile up from the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman just past Sunshine Suites, will offer 266 guestrooms and suites, including a penthouse presidential suite and a mix of oceanfront units, beachfront bungalows, oceanview suites, oceanview guestrooms and eight family suites.
The property also will house 62 condominium residential units adjacent to the resort, and condo guests will have access to all Seafire amenities, a private social rooftop, personalized concierge services and a beach view from every unit. Kimpton will not be managing that component.
The condo structure will open at the same time as the resort, according to Andre.
"Our signature elements will include open-air, contemporary architecture and design; a 1,300-square-foot event lawn with seating areas, a communal fire pit and one of our two pools; and a boardwalk," Andre said.
Interconnected coastal biking and walking paths will offer access to the resort's main pool, beach and watersports activity areas.
A retail and restaurant promenade will be located alongside a blue/green accent wall whose colors mimic the Caribbean Sea beyond.
"The bottom line driving this resort is that many of our customers already have experienced Kimpton in the U.S.," Andre said. "Our loyal customers know what we offer in terms of levels of service and playful style, food and beverage options and value for their money, and we will capitalize on all that.
"Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is ready to launch as an international hotel company, and this resort will set the mark in terms of further projecting us into the international arena," he said.
Kimpton Seafire will feature three on-site restaurants: a beach bar serving three meals a day, a tapas restaurant and a signature culinary venue.
"We will not be an all-inclusive property," Andre said. "Part of the allure of Grand Cayman is its great restaurants, and we expect that our guests will want to experience dining in various restaurants around the island."
Other facilities include a 12,300-square-foot spa and fitness center and native botanical gardens landscaped from the nursery of Dart Realty, the Cayman-based developer.
While room rates have not been disclosed, prices will range between those offered by the Ritz-Carlton and the Westin Casuarina, according to Andre.
Packages will be available as will group and incentive rates, and all guests registered in the Kimpton Karma four-tiered rewards program earn and redeem points toward free nights, spa credits, bar credits, upgrades, late checkouts and chefs' treats.
"We have the most expansive beach on Seven Mile Beach in terms of size, and our rates will command a price that fits the location, the unobstructed sea views from every room and suite, our culinary options and our service," he said.
Training programs for staff and employees will commence as the opening date draws closer, and Kimpton plans to hire many from the local community.
"Travel agents will be key to our success in Grand Cayman," Andre said. "We are counting on them and will market specifically to them to grow bookings."